Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Discovery Continues

Gacy's house after demolition
Gacy's house after demolition

By the end of February, police were still digging up Gacy's property. They had already gutted the house and were unable to find anymore bodies in the crawl space. It had taken investigators longer than expected to resume the search due to bad winter storms that froze the ground and the long process of obtaining proper search warrants. However, they believed there were still more bodies to be found and they were right.

While workmen were breaking up the concrete of Gacy's patio, they came across another horrific discovery. They found the body of a man still in good condition preserved in the concrete. The man wore a pair of blue jeans shorts and a wedding ring. Gacy's victims no longer included just young boys or suspected homosexuals, but now also married men. The following week another body was discovered.

The thirty-first body to be found linked to Gacy was in the Illinois River. Investigators were able to discover the identity of the young man by a "Tim Lee" tattoo on one of his arms. A friend of the victim's father had recognized the "Tim Lee" tattoo while reading a newspaper story about the discovery of a body in the river. The victim's name was Timothy O'Rourke, who was said to be such a fan of Bruce Lee's that he took the Kung Fu master's last name and added it to his own name in his tattoo. It is possible that Gacy had become acquainted with the young man in one of the gay bars in New Town.

Yet, another body was found on Gacy's property around the time O'Rourke was discovered and pulled from the river. The body was located beneath the recreation room of Gacy's house. It would be the last body to be found on Gacy's property. Soon after the discovery, the house was destroyed and reduced to rubble. Unfortunately, among the 32 bodies that were discovered that of Robert Piest was still unaccounted for. Piest was still missing.

Finally in April 1979, the remains of Robert Piest were discovered in the Illinois River. His body had supposedly been lodged somewhere along the river making it difficult to find his body. However, strong winds must have dislodged the corpse and carried it to the locks at Dresden Dam where it was eventually discovered. Autopsy reports on Piest determined that he had suffocated from paper towels being lodged down his throat. The family soon after filed a $85-million suit against Gacy for murder and the Iowa Board of Parole, the Department of Corrections and the Chicago Police Department for negligence.

Police investigators continued to match dental records and other clues to help identify the remaining victims who were found on Gacy's property. All but nine of the victims were finally identified. Although the search for the dead had finally come to an end, Gacy's trial was just beginning.


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